Typically, social workers help improve the lives and wellbeing of communities through educational programs, advocacy, policy change, community organizing, research, crisis intervention, direct practice, and various government initiatives.
They fight against poverty, social injustice, inequality, and the overall health and wellbeing of individuals less privileged than others. With more than 200,000 people working in the field alone in the U.S, clinical social work is considered one of the most crucial mental health-based by the National Institute of Health and federal law.
In fact, there are more clinical social workers than psychiatric nurses, psychiatrists, and psychologists combined. That said, becoming a social worker requires immense know-how of human development and behavior and how individuals interact with each other.
According to research by Socialworkers.org, social workers make up one of the largest groups of mental healthcare services providers in America alone. These professionals are employed in various clinical and non-clinical settings, including substance abuse treatment centers, outpatient mental health clinics, and inpatient psychiatric facilities.
Within these healthcare facilities, mental health social workers play a vital role in helping individuals suffering from psychiatric dysfunction and various mental health illnesses. With that in mind, let us look at a few ways social work improves mental health.
Clinical social workers perform evaluations and intakes.
A clinical social worker is typically the first professionals an individual comes in contact with when they require mental health or psychiatric treatment.
Before a patient receives any medical help, they must undergo a proper evaluation and intake process. The process involves social meetings with patients to perform an intake and gather general identification data, previous medical history, medical insurance information, and the underlying mental health issue.
So, if you’re an aspiring candidate who wants to know the answer to what can you do with an MSW,’ consider working as an evaluator in a clinical setting! This will allow you to improve the intake and evaluation process and ensure that patients are well-cared for.
Clinical social workers formulate treatment plans.
After completing the evaluation and intake process, clinical social workers will help formulate patients’ treatment plans. This plan usually contains various problems identified during the evaluation process and a course of treatment based upon the patient’s mental health issue.
In fact, depending on their underlying psychiatric issue, these professionals might consult with other primary care physicians such as psychologists or psychiatrists to seek help in formulating treatment themselves.
For instance, a patient might come into a healthcare facility with severe mental health issues such as suicidal tendencies, delusions, or other psychiatric problems requiring medication.
If such a thing happens, clinical social workers will collaborate with the respective primary care physician and create treatment plans that address said issues.
In the end, the more accurate the treatment plans, the more effective they will be in addressing patients’ mental health issues.
Clinical social workers intervene during situations of severe crisis.
A social worker working in a clinical setting is typically generally involved with patients undergoing a severe crisis.
These might include providing community referrals to patients who require a particular type of emergency assistance like food and housing, offering help to walk-in patients who need treatment, or assisting them during a crisis through telephone.
Furthermore, the aim of every clinical social worker in these situations is to evaluate whether an individual requires additional, more long-term medical treatment or whether they can return to their normal, functional lifestyle.
For example, a clinical social worker might assist severely stressed individuals by admitting them to the healthcare facility’s short-term intensive care unit for additional treatment and monitoring.
Social workers provide treatment and other related services.
A clinical social worker might provide patients with various other treatments and services depending on the problems or issues at hand. In fact, according to John Hopkins Medicine, a few services and treatments a clinical social worker may offer include advocacy and case management, supportive counseling, family therapy, and group counseling.
Not to mention Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT), substance abuse counseling, children play therapy, and short-term psychotherapy, to mentally ill patients.
Furthermore, a clinical social worker may also provide consultation, support, and help to other healthcare professionals directly involved in a patient’s mental healthcare in any capacity.
Furthermore, they might collaborate with a patient’s private therapist or family doctor to discuss treatment plans and the best course of action for quick recovery.
Of course, they will first ask for the patient’s consent before approaching these healthcare professionals.
In the end, clinical social work goes a long way in improving the psychological and emotional wellbeing of a mentally ill individual. After all, clinical social workers support communities, families, and individuals as they look to overcome issues that negatively affect their health and wellbeing.
That said, their relationships with patients are built upon mutual trust, where the patient knows that the social worker they’re assigned to will do whatever they can to help them get better.
With that in mind, look at how social work helps improve mental health mentioned above and consider speaking to a social worker to find answers to questions you find challenging to answer yourself.